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Lean on Me (1989) Poster

(1989)

Trivia

Real-life students and teachers from Eastside High appeared as extras in this film.
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The real-life Joe Clark resigned as principal of Eastside High School shortly after the film was released. Around the time the film debuted, he was suspended by the school board for one week, after scheduling an assembly, in which dancers stripped down to their G-strings. Clark said he hadn't known about it in advance. Ironically, the man who suspended him, was Dr. Frank Napier, the Superintendent played by Robert Guillaume in the film. After Clark left Eastside, he became an author, and motivational speaker. In 1995, he was hired to run a juvenile detention center in Newark, New Jersey, a position he held, until he resigned in 2002. During his time there, he once again came under fire for his controversial methods.
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Morgan Freeman spent time with the real-life Joe Clark to capture his mannerisms and sayings.
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In the auditorium scene, where Morgan Freeman's character expels the students on stage, a young Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos (1999) can be seen behind him.
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Although Regina Taylor plays the mother of Karen Malina White, in real-life she's only five years older.
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In the auditorium scene, where Mr. Clark expels the students on-stage, a young Taye Diggs can be seen sitting in the audience. He is the one wearing a blue shirt.
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Half the cast, including Morgan Freeman, are left-handed.
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Beverly Todd, who portrays Vice Principal Levias in this film, also worked with Morgan Freeman in The Bucket List (2007), portraying his character's wife.
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In one scene (while holding a baseball bat), Morgan Freeman says, "They used to call me Crazy Joe. Well now they can call me Batman!" Freeman would go on to play the character of Lucius Fox, ally to Batman, in the Dark Knight trilogy.
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Several homages to Sesame Street (1969) are referenced in the film - when Clark was seen as a history teacher, in the 1967 scene, he sported an Afro (similar to the character Easy Reader on The Electric Company (1971), where Morgan Freeman was part of the cast) and when he arrives at Eastside High, on the first day on the job, he wears a business suit similar to the one he had during The Electric Company's opening credits. Dr. Napier said to Clark, in one scene, that he is a Big Bird with Radar, which was a double entendre (either as an airplane or the famous Sesame Street character with his pet teddy bear). Also, Lynne Thigpen would later join the cast of the PBS series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (1991), as the Chief.
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During the graduation ceremony during the credits, Thomas Sams joins the rest of the seniors, as a joke. In reality, he would've graduated from Eastside as a member of the Class of 1991.
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Mashond Lee and Karen Malina White worked together on The Cosby Show (1984), as Slide and Charmaine.
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